There are a lot of reasons to build a photography website. You might want to monetize it through ads, affiliate marketing or photo sales, share your work with the world and grow as an artist thanks to the feedback you receive. You might actually have something that you would like to teach others, etc.
Regardless of your reasons and the purpose of the website, there are some demands they all have to meet. WordPress caters to most of those demands, and is simple enough to use even by less experienced webmasters. It offers a wide range of free or premium photography specific themes and plugins. Knowing which to choose hinges on you knowing what are some of the essential features or characteristics they need to have.
- Visual harmony – a photography website with disjointed aesthetics is as trust-instilling as a web design website with page elements which are failing to load, or an SEO site without optimized meta-elements. A visually offensive theme could turn your visitors away even before they see a single one of your photos, but that’s not the only thing to worry about. Aside from being appealing on its own, your theme also has to provide the appropriate context for your photos, to set the adequate background, accentuate the composition of the images instead of disrupting it and, generally, be compatible with your style.
- Ecommerce capabilities – You might want to sell your own photos, create a platform for photo sharing, distribute equipment and accessories, or monetize your site in another way. Even if you currently believe that you don’t need features of this kind, and you are simply running a website for the pleasure of it, there’s no telling when its popularity might explode, allowing you to perhaps earn a living by doing something you love. Should this happen, you don’t want to have to do a major rehaul of the website and perhaps compromise the popularity that inspired it in the first place.
- Flexibility – even if you find a practically perfect theme, you’ll need to do some tweaking of your own. Those allowing you all the freedom you need may demand a bit more effort to set up but are the only ones that can result in a site you are perfectly happy with. So, aside from offering basics like template portfolio pages, they need to allow different photo formats in your posts, offer lightbox viewing options and custom gallery styles, give you a way to format captions, etc.
- Mobile friendly – people will be uploading images to your site from their phones, and viewing them on tablets, they need to enjoy the experience just as much as people coming from desktop PCs. Photography websites are perhaps more demanding when it comes to responsiveness, with screen size and page loading speed being even more of an issue than with other websites, so you need to pay special attention to this aspect of choosing a suitable theme.
Most themes come with demo views you can use to examine their different facets and options they are offering. Before choosing a theme, have a look at how people whose skills you admire have presented their work by browsing through examples of sites boasting the best web design, or the most successful photography blogs in your niche. Once you know what you want, it might be time to take a look at some of the following popular WordPress photography themes.
1. Dazzle – by DeliciousThemes ($47)
This minimalist but, dare we say, dazzling theme is supported on most major platforms, beautiful to look at and perfectly mobile responsive. It is compatible with WordPress Multilingual and WordPress WooCommerce plugins, enabling you to not only present your site to people of different nationalities but also to make them your customers. With a range of bonus plugins, SEO-conscious architecture and an option-rich dashboard, there is not much that this theme can’t do.
2. Fargo – by Pixelgrade($75)
Fargo is a clean wedding photography WordPress theme for artists who make a living out of this activity. The look-and-feel of this product next to the beautiful animations and transitions makes it stand out. You can play with text, video, a mix of multimedia around your photographs, no matter if you prefer the portrait or landscape perspective. The cinematic atmosphere helps you capture your visitors’ attention and be immersed fully. If you want to highlight your work in a way that feels authentic and memorable, Fargo is your go-to WordPress theme.
3. SceneOne – by imaginem ($59)
Offering 12 different fullscreen slideshow styles, 8 different menus and a plethora of other nuanced customization options, SceneOne is a theme that you could tweak and optimize for days without ever getting bored. Compatible with plugins like Yoast SEO, WooCommerce and MailChimp, the theme allows you to easily monetize your work, as do features like stock photo, client and events management.
4. Pinhole – by meks ($69)
Whether you want a platform to promote and sell your professional services, or just a place to showcase your talent, this theme comes with a balance of simplicity and flexibility that is not easy to achieve. Convenient gallery management, customizable fonts, and reliable support are all contributing to the five-star rating that this theme seems to be constantly getting. With built-in translation options and right-to-left reading support, it’s perfect for websites with multinational presence.
5. Nakamura – by UXBARN ($49)
Just like minimalist art isn’t necessarily simple, a minimalist theme is not necessarily starved for features. While it is extremely lightweight and straightforward, there is plenty for you to do if you are detail-oriented. From tweaking the lightbox options or typography styles to arranging the layout of your portfolio, Nakamura is bound to appeal to anyone who needs an unobstructed but versatile theme.
6. Vivagh Photographer – by designthemes ($59)
Wedding photography blogs are one of the most common types of photography sites for a reason, there are very few events in a person’s life which are as monumental and as visually impressive as weddings. This is why this theme was made in no less than three different versions meant to cater to different niches within the wedding photography world. With more than 150 shortcode elements, unlimited layout possibilities, varied portfolio column, slider or header types and integration with Instagram, there is not much more you could need from a wedding photography theme.
7. PH – by wphunters ($69)
Another wedding related theme, but one that is focused more on providing the photographer with a beautiful portfolio, than on trying to offer every option imaginable. This fully responsive theme loads in an instant, offers content protection features, like preventing right clicking on the images, and comes with all the portfolio or gallery layouts that you may need. With social networks and MailChimp capabilities, engaging your audience and promoting your work is going to be a breeze.
8. Luka – by Colormelon ($95)
An elegant and sophisticated theme, suitable for artists and professionals alike, if you want a beautiful theme with vibrant animations and plenty of customization options, Luka might be the one for you. It boasts different blog layout options, horizontal scroll in galleries, multi-level menus which are appealing and easy to navigate at the same time, and no less than three amazing welcome page variations.
9. Siena – by royalzthemes ($59)
Siena is a businessman’s theme. With a clean code, extensive documentation and range of eCommerce plugins and features, it has been streamlined for efficiency without sacrifices in its aesthetics. Its minimalist design and responsive layouts make it perfectly suitable for smaller screens, while having three different portfolio concepts to choose between and modify will ensure that your work gets to shine regardless of the platform used to view it.
10. Semishot – by maarcin ($49)
Built for agencies and freelancers alike, this theme comes with tight security, essential plugins support, including but not limited to Visual Composer, Yoast SEO, and MailChimp, beautiful animations and page transitions, 6 templates for your portfolio layout, and a host of other useful features. While navigation is very straightforward and intuitive, your visitors who might need to find something specific can always make use of the handy live search filter, making it even easier for them to enjoy your work.
11. Photography – by pixel-mafia ($59)
You want to blog about photography and earn money through affiliate links? This theme’s got you covered. You want to showcase your work and perhaps attract more clients – the elegance of the theme, combined with its seamless element transitions is bound to impress. Do you hate the limitations imposed by some of the other themes? Visual Composer provided with this theme will help you customize the elements you would otherwise have little control over.
12. Mora – by DeliciousThemes ($47)
This retina ready theme is all about responsiveness. Each of its aspects has been made with consideration to different screen sizes that might be used to view it, which is why it offers the ability to change thumbnail behavior, automatic rescaling of the images based on the display type, mobile-friendly layouts for everything from portfolios to blogs and a range of other essential features. It comes with parallax backgrounds and other visual treats, but it also doesn’t skimp on the security and SEO features.
13. Photography – by IronNetwork ($59)
Regardless of whether you are trying to build up an audience or a customer base, this theme allows you to present your work to your visitors with an equal focus on aesthetics and on functionality. With numerous footer and header styles; no less than 25 different inner page layouts; 5 homepage variants; responsive design and beautiful sliders, there is not much more than you could ask for from a photography theme.
14. Alvar – by UXBARN ($49)
A lightweight theme that is easy to install and setup and will get you going in no time. While offering more than enough customization options to really help you make the site your own, including different styles for social network links and a range of portfolio layouts, this theme is mainly focused on providing you with a smooth, functional and minimalistically beautiful website that your users can browse without hiccups, and that you can update without years of experience in coding.
15. Kreativa – by imaginem ($59)
This theme is not only already packed with templates and variations for different site elements, it also comes with the features allowing you to finely tune most of those elements as well. From easily classifying items as filterable to advanced lightbox setup options, most themes don’t give you this much customization freedom. It supports the most essential SEO, e-commerce and customer relationships plugins, and has been receiving nothing but praise from the people who’ve tried it.
16. Refrakt – by imaginem ($59)
Coming with a light and dark variant, advanced customization features and smooth navigation, Refrakt will meet the needs of most photographers, whether they are looking to make some money, or just to display the work in the most flattering and suitable context. The theme allows you to tweak page opacity, automatically switch UI elements based on the chosen skin, make use of client and event management features, and do just about anything else you might need to with a photography theme.
17. Valeria – by Ontegor ($46)
You love photography so much you want to be out there snapping shots all the time and not wasting those valuable hours on sharing your work with others. In that case, Valeria is the theme for you. With a quick install, two color schemes, custom fonts integration and different header styles, this theme can be quickly customized to suit your needs, while still allowing you to inject it with all the individuality that you want to exhibit.
18. Zolak Portfolio – by wpSpade ($69)
A minimalist theme every detail of which has been carefully crafted and balanced with those around it, Zolak Portfolio ensures that your work is in the focus and that everything surrounding it is perfect despite being secondary. With localization support and WPML compatibility, it can be used for sites catering to audiences of just about any nationality, while its portfolio filtering options will make it easier for those audiences to find exactly what they need.
19. Moone – by GT3themes ($59)
With its numerous layout variations and templates this theme allows you to create a well-balanced site in a matter of hours, but since most of its individual elements can be additionally customized, you could also spend days modifying it without ever coming across the same layout twice. However, once you do find a style that works for you, theme’s versatile page builder will let you replicate it whenever you need.
20. Joker – by Monkeysan ($59)
With no less than 13 predefined homepage layouts, 2 distinctive menu variants, and as many portfolio layouts as you may need, this theme is perfect for huge agency sites and private portfolio blogs alike. While its versatility is one of its main features it also demands a fair bit of support from the developer, and if user reviews are any indication, the theme excels in this department as well.
21. Bokeh – by mondotheme ($59)
Coming with a dark and light skin, this minimalist theme is extremely responsive and packed with additional widgets that can make the visitors’ browsing experience more enjoyable. Different gallery styles allow you to create a perfect backdrop for your portfolio, regardless of the genre of your photography, while compatibility with WooCommerce makes it easy to actually earn some money through your website. Like most of the other themes on the list, Bokeh is retina ready and comes with integrated social sharing buttons.
Even the 20 themes listed here don’t even come close to illustrating the variety in features and styles that you’ll have to wade through before being able to make even a semi-informed decision. While we have focused only on paid themes in this post, because a paid theme is the right direction for you, if you are making your first steps in this arena, you might want to hone your skills on a free theme before committing to one on a more permanent basis.